Endeavor Energy launches digitized substation – Strategy – Hardware – Networks


Endeavor Energy claims to save millions by developing a fully digitized electrical substation.

The first substation to be digitalised, the South Erskine Park area substation, is likely the first of its kind in Australia, said secondary systems manager Matthew Browne. iTnews.

Digitizing a substation is demanding on both computers and the network, as control systems must respond to network events within tens of milliseconds.

The substation is the result of a three-year, $3 million internal project under Browne’s colleague, network planning manager Gavin De Hosson.

The gain, Browne said, resulted in several cost savings: the control system is less expensive and the reduced system footprint means Endeavor Energy could save money “by using much more modular buildings little ones”.

The savings are “on the order of about 25% per substation project, and the typical substation could be around $20 or $25 million.”

Digitization has also reduced the commissioning time of the South Erskine Park project from three years or more to around 15 months, he said.

“It…allows us to be more responsive to developer needs.

“We can potentially … save money also by delaying the start of the project to be more just in time rather than planning for five years,” Browne said.

This avoids the risk of a territory’s needs changing between design and deployment.

The future grid is also a consideration, he said: “We’re starting to get to the point where we have power supplies with reverse power flows, which we’ve never had before, because of things like solar power on rooftops. The digital substation facilitates these types of unpredictable future changes in the network to be measured.

“We are looking at potentially building, I think, about 15 new substations over the next decade. We want a state-of-the-art network for this new supply system here that will be more adaptable to future changing network needs and offer low cost to customers.

It was an entirely internal R&D project to develop it, Browne added.

“We haven’t outsourced any part of the design or anything like that…so we’ve kept that expertise and knowledge in-house for our future substations, which wouldn’t be the case if you outsourced that .”


The physical changes made possible by the digitization of the workstation are considerable.

In a conventional substation, thousands of copper signal wires run from metering devices such as circuit breakers to a control computer managing the SCADA system.

“There’s a huge burden associated with wiring it all up, testing it, maintaining it, and keeping it working,” Browne said, “and obviously there’s limits to what it can deliver.”

Instead, the digitization project uses optical fiber to transport signals over a network protocol similar to Ethernet, but enhanced to meet the deterministic and real-time requirements of the substation (defined by IEC 61850) .

Operators, Browne said, have a regulatory obligation to detect faults, or currents that indicate something is wrong, and send a signal to a circuit breaker, within 30 milliseconds.

De Hosson explained that “the focus is where the supervision, control and data acquisition actually happens.”

“We typically have circuit breakers with current sensors and volt sensors surrounding that equipment. And they are connected to our control system, usually by thousands of wires,” De Hosson said.

“In all of these signals, we have a very high need for very high signal integrity…we’re really looking for zero data loss, very high levels of time synchronization, [and] we often compare measurements across a substation or compare measurements across sites.

“The digital substation will replace those thousands of wires and interconnects, which are usually point-to-point connections, with a type of hardened device that is installed either in the equipment or very close to the main equipment. “

This “very complex set of copper cabling” is replaced by a “rather simple and easy to install fiber network”, he added.


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